Justin Bieber, Allie X, Kaytranada, Drake and more: songs you need to hear this week
5 fresh tunes to add to your playlist right now
In December, we hit pause on our weekly "Songs you need to hear" feature in order to focus on celebrating the year in music.
But now it's a new year and we're busy catching up with the best Canadian music released during the past month or so. These new songs from Martin Solveig featuring Roy Woods, Allie X featuring Troye Sivan, Drake, Justin Bieber, and Kaytranada featuring Charlotte Day Wilson are soundtracking the early days of 2020 for us. Scroll down to find out why you need to listen to them, too.
What new Canadian tunes are you currently obsessed with? Let us know on Twitter @CBCMusic.
Four new tracks, a handful of guest verses and a compilation album may sound like a lot in one year, but that amount of output is actually considered modest for Drake, who laid relatively low in 2019. With an album in the works, and another Future collaboration teased earlier this week, the Toronto rapper is ready to ramp things up once again in 2020. "War" was his holiday gift to fans, a track that chooses lyrical flexing over hooks. On it, Drake fires off warnings at his foes while putting rumours of a feud with fellow Torontonian the Weeknd to rest: "You know that's been my n--ga/ yeah, we just had to fix things, family, six tings, we can't split up." Employing a similar flow to his "Behind Barz" freestyle, "War" isn't particularly new-sounding, but perhaps a clearing of the slate, hopefully making room for another musical turn from one of music's most versatile artists.
— Melody Lau
'Yummy,' Justin Bieber
Reviews have been mixed so far for "Yummy," Justin Bieber's first single since 2015's Purpose. Pitchfork called it a "flop" whereas Vulture says it's "catchy" — a predictable divergence of opinion, given the polarizing nature of Bieber's music and personality. We're hailing "Yummy" not only as a definite bop but also a welcome sign that Bieber is returning to his R&B comfort zone for his forthcoming fifth studio album. The song's chorus, with its quasi-nonsensical lyrics ("Yeah, you got that yummy-yum, that yummy-yum, that yummy-yummy"), is actually more of a mood than a standout moment, while the pulsating synths add an irresistible serenity to this uxorious ode. And the video, directed by Bardia Zeinali, is a feast (literally) for the eyes and has rekindled our appetite for Jell-O salad.
— Robert Rowat
'What You Need,' Kaytranada feat. Charlotte Day Wilson
On Dec. 13, Kaytranada pulled a Beyoncé and dropped his highly anticipated sophomore album, Bubba, with barely a word in advance — and after all the critics' best-of-2019 lists were published. (Spoiler alert: this followup album to his Polaris Prize-winning 99.9% would've absolutely made our list.) Featuring guest spots from the likes of Tinashe, Goldlink, Pharrell Williams and Kali Uchis, Bubba is an intimate, sweaty dance party that's perfect for getting up close and personal with friends and lovers alike. It feels impossible to pick only one track off this album (former U.S. president Barack Obama chose "Go DJ" featuring SiR as his favourite), but Kaytranada's collaboration with Toronto singer/producer Charlotte Day Wilson is where we always land. Day Wilson's honeyed vocals pour over Kayranada's springy beat, her feature perfectly balanced with his production, never overpowering it. Bubba may have come out in 2019, but it's already a contender for most-played album of 2020.
— Holly Gordon
'Love me Wrong,' Allie X feat. Troye Sivan
Noted as one of the albums we can't wait to hear in 2020, Canadian pop artist Allie X's upcoming release, Cape God, boasts two big guest features from Mitski and Troye Sivan. The latter is a frequent collaborator of Allie X's dating back to 2015, when Allie X co-wrote a number of songs off Sivan's debut album, Neighbourhood. On "Love me Wrong," the two singer-songwriters ruminate on incomplete familial love, imbuing their respective verses with a sombre tone that builds into fever-pitch harmonies that collide with distorted synths on its chorus. It's an emotional ballad that utilizes Allie X's operatic range, and Sivan isn't afraid to climb those octaves with her. Here's hoping their musical partnership continues to grow to new heights. — ML
'Juliet & Romeo,' Martin Solveig, Roy Woods
If you resolved to work less and party more in 2020, then this new dance-floor packer from Martin Solveig and Roy Woods ought to help you achieve those goals. You'd never guess this was Woods' debut on an EDM song, so naturally do his vocals mesh with the syncopated piano chords of the song sample ("Der Alte" by Kölsch) employed by Solveig. While the chorus is essentially an ode to the party lifestyle ("Intoxicated, this is how we wanna be/ you and I, we gotta keep dancing"), there are also allusions to "leaving behind your reality," a notion supported by the song's video, which depicts a fantasy world where neither the laws of gravity nor gender stereotypes seem to matter. — RR